Bengaluru, May 10: Rahul Darvid's journey in the long and limited-overs (50) format was literally a study in contrast at the beginning of his career.
While 'The Wall' had bought a name for himself since scoring a 95 in his debut Test against England in 1996, it took a while for the accomplished batsman to cement is spot in the Indian One-day International squad.
In his earlier days, Dravid's batting was so slow that he was often written off as a player suitable for the limited overs. The Karnataka cricketer had harboured hopes of playing in World Cup but failed to make the cut in 1996 when he was a fringe player.
The period between the 1996 and 1999 World Cups saw Dravid going through a struggling phase . The year 1998 was an ordinary one for Dravid as he managed just one fifty and even got dropped from the team.
In one game against Bengladesh at home, the middle-order batsman could score a run in 22 balls, showing how much ground he had to cover to be in the mix for the 1999 World Cup.
In his own words that Dravid had written in a piece for ESPNcricinfo: "In 1998, I played very few ODIs and thought I might not be picked for the 1999 World Cup. But I was determined to fight my way back in. That year away from the ODI team in 1998 made me retool my one-day cricket, working on certain shots and drills. It made me a better player."
Dravid would consider himself a tad lucky for the next World Cup was being played in England where India needed a solid hand at No.3 in seaming conditions. The batsman also had a good start to the year by hitting a hundred against New Zealand in Taupo and scored another ton against Sri Lanka in a tri-series at home. He also scored four half-centuries apart from those two knocks and eventually made it to the squad.
India also had a poor start to the tournament as they lost to South Africa and Zimbabwe in their first two games. However, Dravid himself had a good time with the bat in the entire tournament after starting off with a 54 against the Proteas in the first match.
He hit two back-to-back hundreds against Kenya (104 not out) and Sri Lanka (145) although the focus on both occasions were stolen by Sachin Tendulkar (140 not out) and Sourav Ganguly (183), respectively. But as a silent hero, Dravid continued to do his job and hit two more fifties in the tournament - 53 against England and 61 against Pakistan - to finish as the highest scorer in the tournament with 461 runs from eight games.
It was a career-changing World Cup for Dravid as far as the ODIs were concerned. "It made me believe I could do well in ODIs. All my early doubts, after I was dropped and picked, wondering what my role was, everything changed with that World Cup," he had said.